Comments on the OECD Secretariat Proposal for a “Unified Approach” under Pillar One
The South Centre Tax Initiative (SCTI), the South Centre’s flagship program for promoting cooperation among developing countries on international tax matters, submitted its comments in November 2019 to the OECD Secretariat’s Proposal for a “Unified Approach” under Pillar One. This proposal is the key solution proposed by the OECD to address the challenge of taxation in the digital economy. In today’s world, it is a common occurrence that large multinational enterprises pay little or no taxes on their global profits by exploiting gaps in international tax rules. Approximately $500 billion is estimated to be lost globally due to corporate tax avoidance each year. This number is five times the annual requirement for funding the Paris Agreement ($100 billion) and around 20% of the funding requirement for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in developing countries ($2.5 trillion). Hence, revenue lost to corporate tax avoidance could go a long way in financing sustainable development and actions regarding climate change.
South Centre Statement to the United Nations High Level Dialogue on Financing for Development
Four years after its adoption, Agenda 2030, “Transforming Our World,” the United Nations’ (UN) most recent and most ambitious development agenda, is off-track. Various estimates of the spending needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) range from $1 to $3 trillion. Domestically mobilized resources are critical to achieve these goals. A main source of the inadequate scale of public revenues are shortfalls in corporate tax collection, which are largely explained by international corporations hosted by or doing businesses in developing countries that take advantage of facilities offered by the international tax standards and practices to avoid full payment of taxes in those countries. A substantive global reform process involving a variety of multilateral platforms is underway. The question is not whether the system of global tax standards and practices will change, but in what direction it will change. Drawing lessons from the developing country context will be critical if the ongoing process of global tax reform will benefit developing countries and achieve substantial success in generating the income needed to effectively attain the SDGs.
Gender, Tax Reform and Taxation Cooperation Issues: Navigating Equity and Efficiency under Policy Constraints
By Dr. Mariama Williams
This policy brief has sought to present a review of the state of thinking and research on a pressing issue of the day: tax reform and tax cooperation and its gendered impacts. There is undeniably widespread agreement amongst all the entities of global governance with responsibility for a role in macroeconomic, financial and trade policies that gender equality and women’s empowerment are important to sustained growth and development. Increasingly, these same voices are articulating and researching on how fiscal policy both on the budgetary and on the revenue side can be made more efficient, gender sensitive and gender responsive. Taxation is the latest area of focused attention in this regard. There is now a quite strong body of work, including case studies, that demonstrates how the tax system can work to the disadvantage of socio-economic development and social goals including gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Improving Transfer Pricing Audit Challenges in Africa through Modern Legislation and Regulations
By Thulani Shongwe
Auditing multinational enterprises often involves a broad range of complex technical issues, and transfer pricing (TP) is often the most important one. This policy brief looks at some of the key aspects of the modern TP legislation and illustrates how different drafting of regulations can assist in additional revenue collection as well as increased compliance. It further provides practical examples from real cases to show where poor legislation has given rise to tax planning and to profit shifting. Lastly, the brief offers practical solutions to some of the transactions illustrated through the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) Suggested Approach to Drafting Transfer Pricing Legislation.
Tax Haven Listing in Multiple Hues: Blind, Winking or Conniving?
By Jahanzeb Akhtar and Verónica Grondona
Tax havens are among the biggest challenges faced by developing countries in achieving their national development goals. States, international organisations, multilateral agencies and non-governmental organisations have all made several efforts at compiling ‘lists’ of tax havens at the multilateral and national levels, with varying levels of seriousness and outcomes. This research paper examines these efforts by analysing the objectivity of criteria used and the clarity of the final outcome in a comparative manner. The paper is organized into four sections dealing with the tax haven blacklisting by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the countries of the South, the European Union (EU) and an analysis across lists. The concluding section offers some suggestions.
Developing Countries and the Contemporary International Tax System: BEPS and other issues
By Marcos Aurélio Pereira Valadão
This policy brief addresses the design of international taxation and tax cooperation in the context of issues presented in the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)/Group of Twenty (G20) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS)Project. It further considers their significance for developing countries and provides the Brazilian approach to those issues. The brief concludes by exploring the importance of regional cooperation vis-à-vis international organizations and highlights relevant considerations for developing countries engaging with the contemporary international tax system.
Illicit Financial Flows: Conceptual and Practical Issues
By Hon. Irene Ovonji-Odida and Algresia Akwi-Ogojo
The issue of illicit financial flows (IFFs) is of great significance for many countries looking to mobilize domestic resources for achieving their development goals. The High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, led by H.E. Thabo Mbeki, brought the issue into the global spotlight, notably since the release of exposés like the ‘Panama Papers’. This policy brief elaborates on the conceptual underpinnings of IFFs, its sources and the development costs they generate. Building on the report of the High Level Panel, it provides recommendations to stem IFFs from developing countries.
The Definition and Treatment of Tax Havens in Brazilian Tax Law between 1995 and 2015
By Alexandre Akio Lage Martins
Over the years, a number of ‘tax haven lists’ have been created at the national and international level, with varying definitions and criteria used to identify jurisdictions falling under their scope. This policy brief presents the experience of Brazil in compiling their national list of tax havens, the road map they followed for its implementation, and the impact that it has had on their foreign investment flows. It also provides the lessons learnt from this experience, which can be positively utilized by other developing countries.
Stemming ‘Commercial’ Illicit Financial Flows & Developing Country Innovations in the Global Tax Reform Agenda
By Manuel F. Montes, Daniel Uribe and Danish
Illicit Financial Flows generated due to the commercial activities of multinational enterprises are quantitatively the most important challenge faced by developing countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Current efforts for stemming these illicit flows and reforming the international tax system are however being led by developed countries, with developing country interests poorly reflected in the reform agenda. This research paper highlights the tax issues of great priority for developing countries and how international tax cooperation can contribute to preventing such illicit flows.
The Causes of Currency Turmoil in the Emerging Economies
By Yuefen LI
Many emerging economies and developing countries are facing strong economic headwinds. Currency depreciation pressure is mounting for some countries. Argentina and Turkey are coping with currency crises, massive capital outflows and hyperinflation. To say their crises are completely self-inflicted is not correct. The exogenous shocks have played an important role. Other emerging economies and developing countries as a whole should be vigilant and try to defend their currencies and maintain financial stability. It is also high time to try to fix the flaws in the international financial system.
Exchange of Information: Indian Experience, Developing Country Implications
By Jahanzeb Akhtar
Exchange of tax-related information between countries is a critical tool for addressing information asymmetries between governments and taxpayers that facilitate tax evasion/avoidance. However, the existing system of information exchange has been essentially designed and implemented by the OECD, without the participation of developing countries. This policy brief thus discusses India’s experience with implementing information exchange for tax and other purposes, with lessons being drawn for other developing countries grappling with base erosion and profit shifting.
Interaction of Transfer Pricing & Profit Attribution: Conceptual and Policy Issues for Developing Countries
By Dr. Vinay Kumar Singh
Till 2010, model tax conventions treated profit attribution to permanent establishments and transfer pricing under different articles, and profit attribution under Article 7 allowed sales to be taken into account both in the direct accounting method as well as the indirect apportionment method. However, the revised Article 7 in the 2010 update of the OECD Convention approximated profit attribution with transfer pricing and omitted the option of apportionment, thereby undermining sales and contributions made by market jurisdiction to business profits. When a tax treaty retains Article 7 based on the UN Convention or the earlier OECD Convention, Contracting States can take sales into account and also opt for apportionment. Developing countries need to fully understand these implications of Article 7 in their tax treaties, and opt for informed choices for transfer pricing and profit attribution to permanent establishments, including apportionment that takes sales into account.